Last night, my partner and I went to see Hells Belles, an all-female AC/DC Tribute band. They are well known and even endorsed by AC/DC. They play small venues and have been around for twenty years. We saw them a couple of weeks ago for the first time, but they had some major technical issues and we left feeling a little disappointed. Nevertheless, we still loved them and their idea so much we decided to go see them again in the hopes of seeing a better show. They did not disappoint. The venue was outdoors and had a backyard feel. The stage was large, the sound was loud, and the lights were bright. A couple of hundred people surrounded the stage and outdoor area. An outdoor barbeque was smoking and drinks were flowing. I sat there with my partner taking in the sounds and melodies of a past generation. Memories stirred, feelings evoked, and I was in a very happy place while I sipped my Non-alcoholic beer. As the night went on, libations continued to pour and people grew more and more intoxicated. One thing became increasingly and overwhelmingly clear to L and me. Alcohol is not simply a problem in our society, it is a downright epidemic.
I try very hard to be a positive voice in the sober community. I use words such as we and us in the hopes of offering an inclusive view of addiction and the recovery process. I never discount or disregard anyone else's journey, and I am open to learning more about new ideas and experiences. With all that said, there is one thing I do not feel positive about and that is the overarching and neverending reach the society of alcohol has on our friends, families, partners, brothers, sisters, co-workers, parents, kids, and strangers. I don't feel positive because after witnessing, yet again, the way we idolize, worship, adore, glorify and praise alcohol, I don't know how to hold a positive view of our future. I mean, let's be honest. Alcohol consumption has been on an upward trajectory since its inception, and in recent times, even more so. Between 1990 and 2017 the consumption of alcohol has increased by 70 percent on a global level (medicalnewstoday.com). This study doesn't even take into account the even more recent uptick of consumption caused by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. People are drinking more than ever before.
No, the overarching theme of the night could only be one thing: inebriation
It wasn't so much the act of drinking that caught my attention at the concert last night. It's nothing new and I have done my share of over-drinking to the point of intoxication in the past too. Some might say it's a right of passage. Others will say it's a phase we all go through. While some will even say it's just part of life. While all of these things may be true to some extent, what caught my attention more than the act of drinking was the discourse regarding alcohol throughout the entire night. If I had to honestly pick a theme to label the event last night based on the criteria generally associated with the idea of theme, it would NOT be music, art, creative expression, talent, community, entertainment, or even fun, which is what it should be. No, the overarching theme of the night could only be one thing: inebriation. It was the single most talked about thing, without question.
Every single one of the bands who played last night talked about drinking or getting drunk. One of the bands referenced getting fucked up in one way or another between every song they played. They drank on stage, requested shots, and even chastised people who were not drinking. The crowd cheered loudly anytime alcohol was referenced. The crowd bought the bands so many drinks they ran out of places to put them on stage. Audience members poured beer into the mouths of band members. Bottles were raised as much or more than applause was rendered for performances. People were drinking so much they couldn't stand and on more than one occasion, someone was dragged out of the standing area in front of the stage because they could not walk. I saw friends pushing each other to drink more. A few times I saw someone put up their hand in protest to their friend's drink offering only to have the drink physically placed into their hands and the bottom tipped up for them. Again, none of this is new, but in a heightened state of sober awareness, it is hard to not only see things more clearly but also to not feel saddened by what we see and hear perpetuated by the society of alcohol.
I am writing this because I no longer understand why it is funny to see our friends
stumble and fall down due to their intoxication
I am not writing this blog for those of us who have already become aware of the absurdity that lies at the bottom of every glass, bottle, and can; although, I don't think it is ever harmful to remind ourselves of these facts. No, I am writing this blog for those of us who are still struggling with our sobriety because we have not yet let go of our relationship with alcohol. I am writing this for those of us who are still sober curious and have not yet found the motivation that pushes us off the ledge and onto the path of freedom. I am writing this for those of us who have fallen into the society of alcohol's long-reaching arms of deceit and destruction and can no longer see the absurdity of all the things I witnessed last night because those absurd things have become normalized in our society. I am writing this because I cannot ignore how sad it is, to me, that we feel the need to not only encourage people to engage in drinking but also that we feel the need to criticize those who choose not to. I am writing this because what kind of a friend force-feeds us alcohol even when we object. I am writing this because I no longer understand why it is funny to see our friends stumble and fall down due to their intoxication. I am writing this because we have to change our perception of alcohol. We have to help each other see the damage it causes. We have to actively take part in the eradication of this toxic substance and behavior. We have to stop perpetuating the lies of alcohol.
A reader recently responded to one of my posts about how they could do without the rah-rah nature of my sentiments. While I would never describe my writing as such, I have to say, with all the negativity surrounding us every day from every corner of our lives and communities, a little positivity certainly cannot hurt us. It is not my intention, however, to be a cheerleader for sobriety. The reason I talk with such passion about this topic is that I have personally experienced the transformation following the cessation of alcohol, nicotine, and addiction. I talk the way I do because it has become clear to me there is not enough talk about how easy it can be to make life-long positive changes in our lives if we approach them in the right way. There is not enough talk about how living day to day can be limiting but living fully and with intention can be forever freeing. There is not enough conversation regarding the differences between being physically present in life and emotional present for life. There are not enough people saying quitting drinking is not giving up something but gaining everything. I talk the way I talk because I want to be a part of the positive transformation in our society. I want to be a part of the shift from a society that encourages each other to destroy ourselves, to a society that encourages each other to be better, stronger, and more unified in solidarity. The community is already out there, but we need your help to make it grow.
There really is nothing better than a sober perspective
For the record, if I portrayed my experience last night as a negative one due to all the things I witnessed, that is certainly not my intention. No, I made several comments to my partner about how much I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I loved the band, I loved the music, I loved the generational aspect of the crowd. I loved so much about the night mostly because I was able to fully take it all in. One of the caveats to awareness, however, is that we undoubtedly see more than we may want to see at times. I use these unsolicited observations as reminders of where I once was, of where I am now, and of where I will never have to return. I acknowledge them, as I am now, and then enjoy all the other observations I missed out on for the better part of my adult life. There really is nothing better than a sober perspective.